Playhouse Disney Changes to Disney Junior
Playhouse Disney, the Disney Channel’s preschool programming block, will be rebranded under the name Disney Junior beginning February 14, 2011. It appears that Disney’s intent is to get back to what they do best- storytelling. While the shows preschoolers know and love will still air, a new series, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, will make its debut. Disney Channel is still providing educational content, but wants to focus more on the story aspect of their shows and the characters, helping to connect those of us who grew up on Disney classics to the younger generation of Disney fans. Here’s a partial listing of the shows you can expect to see on Disney Junior.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Well of course you can’t have anything Disney without the mouse! Mickey Mouse Clubhouse will continue to air on Disney Preschool, featuring new episodes along with old favorites. This show features Mickey and the gang- Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, and various others- as they travel on different adventures or complete different tasks. Each episode focuses on thinking skills, as a challenge is presented that requires little ones to think through what needs to be done and what “tool” they might need to complete it.
Handy Manny will remain a staple show for preschoolers. The show features Manny, a Spanish speaking handyman, and his talking tools as they complete various jobs around the town. Preschoolers will learn about cooperation, helping others and many new Spanish words as well.
Special Agent Oso
Special Agent Oso is a panda bear on a mission. Each episode, Oso has a task to complete or a goal to meet that requires a new skill. Before he can complete it, though, he’s always sent on a mission to help a child who lives nearby with something they need help with. In doing so, he learns the skills he needs to complete his mission. To complete the mission, he must master “three special steps” of the task. This show helps kids to break tasks down into smaller chunks that are easier to handle, and it helps them to keep trying even when things get difficult- just like Oso!
A relative newcomer, Chuggington features a train station with talking trains that have special jobs in their town. Similar in concept to Thomas the Tank Engine, Chuggington features child-like trains in training as well- learning lessons about friendship, honestly, and obedience as they learn their way around Chuggington.
Imagination Movers are a group of problem solvers, always ready to help. Each episode features someone with a problem that the movers help to solve, by various means. They’re always brainstorming, and help kids understand that you can only fail if you don’t try, and as long as you’re willing to use your imagination, you can always find the answer.
Of course, Disney Junior will also air shorts and clips from classic Disney films as needed, in addition to its newest upcoming series, Jake and the Neverland Pirates. As it hasn’t yet aired, I can’t give a lengthy synopsis, but it appears that the show is about a group of kid pirates, led by a boy named Jake, who are looking for treasure in Neverland. Captain Hook is their nemesis, always seeking to thwart them in some way. Sounds like a modern day Peter Pan, huh? Perhaps, but we’ll have to wait and see, as it won’t air until Valentine’s Day.
Additionally, it’s been confirmed that Disney Junior will become its own 24 hour channel in 2012, replacing SoapNet.